If you hear the words “French Switzerland,” you might picture the western part of Switzerland where French is the primary language spoken. French Switzerland, also called Romandy, stands out with its language, culture, and relaxed lifestyle. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best cities and towns to visit and discover in French Switzerland.
Without further ado, here are some of the best cities and towns to visit in French Switzerland:
10 Best French Switzerland Cities and Towns
Montreux is one of the most popular destinations in French Switzerland. Renowned for its picturesque Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva’s northeastern shore, it is a charming spa town known for its mild climate and awesome views. The town also hosts the Montreux Jazz Festival, a yearly festival that attracts both legendary and emerging artists from around the globe.
From Montreux, you can also take the panoramic Golden Pass Train.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Montreux
|* Chillon Castle
* Queen Studio Experience
* Freddie Mercury Statue
* Rochers de Naye
* Golden Pass Railway
If you would like to read more about Montreux, check out our articles:
Vevey is a scenic lakeside resort in French Switzerland, known for its giant fork and food museum, as well as being the home of Charlie Chaplin. This picturesque town is home to Nestlé, a world-renowned food and beverage company.
From 1952 to 1977, Charlie Chaplin lived in Vevey. If you are into his life or works, you can also drop by Chaplin’s World, a museum honoring Charline Chaplin located in Corsier-sur-Vevey.
The 8-meter-tall fork that can be seen in Vevey was installed to mark Alimentarium’s tenth anniversary.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Vevey
* Chaplin’s World
* Fork of Vevey
* Musée Jenisch (Museum of Fine Arts and Prints)
* Vevey Photography Museum
* Swiss Museum of Games
* Vevey History Museum
* Eastern Orthodox Church
* Swiss Reformed Church of Saint-Martin
* City Hall
* Place du Marché
* Saint-Jean Tower and Fountain
If you would like to read more about Vevey, check out our articles:
My favorite city in French Switzerland is without a doubt, Lausanne. On the shores of Lake Geneva, this exciting city offers something for everyone. Lausanne has this young energy and vibe, rich history, shopping, lake, swimming, and wonderful views of the Alps.
Lausanne has an attractive old town and cathedral, the Olympic Museum, the new art district of Plateforme 10, and some nightlife. It also has a rich history. Back in the olden days, the Celts and Romans ruled it. They estimate the population to be between 1,500 and 2,000 during the Roman period. Nowadays, the city is the fifth-largest city in Switzerland. Not only does it have impressive, historic buildings. It also has an aquarium and access to the lake.
Lausanne hosts lots of universities and has a significant student population along with restaurants, bars, and hotels around the center.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Lausanne
|* Lausanne Cathedral
* Lausanne’s Old Town
* Olympic Museum and Park
* Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium
* Plateforme 10
If you would like to read more about Lausanne, check out our articles:
- How to Spend 1 Day in Lausanne, Switzerland
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- 9 Closest Mountains To Lausanne, Switzerland
- 10 Beautiful Towns Near Lausanne, Switzerland
- Lausanne Cathedral: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell
- Ouchy, Lausanne: A Haven for Everyone
- Honest Review: Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium, Lausanne
- Plateforme 10: Lausanne’s New Art District
- 9 Best Free Places to Visit in Lausanne, Switzerland
- 12 Most Beautiful Lakes Near Lausanne
- 9 Best Things to Do in Lausanne on a Rainy Day
- Olympic Museum Lausanne: A Comprehensive Guide and Review
Geneva is the most populous city in French Switzerland and the second-most in the entire country.
There are many international organizations based in the city of Geneva, including the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization, and the World Health Organization. It is also a major financial center, ranking fifth in Europe after London, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg.
Geneva truly is an important city for diplomacy, international cooperation, and humanitarian engagement. In Geneva, you can admire the iconic Jet d’Eau, visit St. Pierre Cathedral where John Calvin preached, witness global diplomacy at the United Nations headquarters, explore the historic Maison Tavel, and indulge in luxury watch shopping.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Geneva
|* Ariana Museum
* St. Pierre Cathedral
* Palace of Nations
* Maison Tavel
* Jet d’Eau
* Bains des Paquis
If you would like to read more about Geneva, check out our articles:
- How to Spend 1 Day in Geneva, Switzerland
- 10 Best Day Trips from Geneva
- Closest Mountains To Geneva in Switzerland
- 9 Beautiful Towns Near Geneva, Switzerland
- 12 Most Beautiful Lakes Near Geneva
- Discover St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland
- A Quick Guide to Jet d’Eau: Geneva’s Iconic Water Fountain
- Musée Ariana, Geneva: 8 Things That Make You Love It
- The Fascinating Maison Tavel: Geneva’s Oldest Residence And Historical Museum
- 8 Best Things to Do in Geneva on a Rainy Day
- Enjoy Switzerland’s Largest Natural History Museum in Geneva
Although officially a bilingual city, I found Fribourg to be more influenced by the French. You will be spoken to in French rather than German first. This city serves as a cultural border or bridge between German and French-speaking areas. It is definitely one of the places I highly recommend that you visit in French Switzerland.
Fribourg has a picturesque alpine setting, an ancient castle, and many historically significant buildings. The city is also home to Fribourg University, the only bilingual university in Switzerland.
Located on the banks of the Sarine River, the city features both a preserved old town and modern structures. One of Fribourg’s most famous landmarks, St. Nicholas Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
For fantastic views of the city, you can walk up to Chapelle de Lorette, a Baroque-style building dating back to 1648.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Fribourg
|* St. Nicholas Cathedral
* Pont du Milieu
* Old City of Fribourg
* City Fortifications
* Chapelle de Lorette
A beautiful town in French Switzerland located on the southwest shore of Lac de Neuchâtel, Yverdon-les-Bains should be on your list of places to visit. Yverdon-les-Bains has a rich history that includes the Alemanni, the Romans, and the Savoys. It’s also known for its thermal springs, which have been used as mineral baths since the Roman era.
Castellans of the Savoy dynasty used to live in Yverdon-les-Bains Castle (Château d’Yverdon). This Swiss heritage site has four towers and is considered a national treasure.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Yverdon-les-Bains
|* Thermal Center at Yverdon-les-Bains
* Yverdon-les-Bains Castle (Château d’Yverdon)
* Museum of Yverdon
* Maison d’Ailleurs Science Fiction Museum
* Yverdon-les-Bains Beach
* Stone Cult Site Clendy
If you would like to read more about Yverdon-les-Bains, check out our article 9 Best Things to Do in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland.
Neuchâtel is a picture-perfect city in French Switzerland with a medieval center. It lies at the northern end of Lake Neuchâtel, the largest lake located entirely in Switzerland. As home to creative watchmakers, it is also an established Swiss watchmaking center.
There are many historical landmarks in the city, including Neuchâtel Castle, the entire old city, and the urban village of Corcelles. Located here is the Laténium, a museum dedicated to prehistoric times in Neuchâtel and Hauterive, focusing primarily on La Tène culture.
Chaumont, a mountain peak easily accessible from the city, provides fantastic panoramic views of the region.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Neuchâtel
|* Neuchâtel Castle
* Old City of Neuchâtel
* Laténium Park and Museum
* Collegiate Church, Neuchâtel
* Lake Neuchâtel
* Chaumont Mountain
Gruyères is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful medieval towns in French Switzerland, located in the canton of Fribourg. In addition to being known for cheese with the same name, it also has a castle and a well-preserved medieval center.
There’s Gruyères Castle, which is now also a museum. You can also find the HR Giger Museum at St-Germain Castle. You should also check out the houses at Rue du Bourg 7, 39, and 47 and the barn at Grange du Laviau. Beyond the town, you can also drop by the Gruyères Cheese Factory, Moléson Mountain, or the reservoir Lake of Gruyère.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Gruyères
|* Entire medieval town center of Gruyères
* The town fortifications
* Gruyères Castle
* Saint-Germain Castle
*Gruyères Cheese Factory
* Lake of Gruyère
If you would like to read more about Gruyères, check out our article Gruyères, Switzerland: A Romantic Little Town.
9. La Chaux-de-Fonds
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Chaux-de-Fonds is an interesting town to visit in French Switzerland.
Located just a few kilometers south of the French border, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, is the ideal place for this watchmaking. In contrast to other parts of the country, the region’s land is not arable, which factors into its importance as a watchmaking region. Watchmaking has always been the main reason for this area’s survival.
Since 2009, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle have been UNESCO World Heritage sites, recognized for their contribution to watchmaking around the world. The watch museum in nearby Le Locle is also worth a visit.
If you’re passionate about watches or watchmaking, you might enjoy visiting the watch museums in this city and nearby Le Locle.
|Don’t miss these attractions in La Chaux-de-Fonds
|* Musée international d’horlogerie
* Musée d’horlogerie du Locle
The Musée international d’horlogerie is an interesting and educational experience. Here, you can expect to learn a great deal about watches.
Morges is a beautiful municipality in French Switzerland that used to be a regional economic, political, and cultural center in the 18th to 19th centuries. This town on Lake Geneva is also home to pre-historic pile-dwelling settlements.
The town itself has several heritage sites such as the Military Museum and Morges Castle. Château de Morges or Morges Castle, inspired by nearby Yverdon Castle, was built by Louis of Savoy to protect the city. Nowadays, it houses the following five museums:
- Military Museum
- Swiss Historic Figurine Museum
- Artillery Museum
- Police Museum
- Paderewski Museum
|Don’t miss these attractions in Morges
|* Old city of Morges
* Morges Castle and the five museums
* De La Croix Blanche Inn
* City Hall
* Tulip Festival in Spring
Make sure to add the Tulip Festival in Morges to your list of interesting events to visit.
Final Thoughts: Best French Switzerland Cities and Towns
French Switzerland, also referred to as Romandy, has many beautiful cities and towns to discover. With a mixture of historic town centers, natural landscapes such as lakes and rivers, and a culture and cuisine highly influenced by the French, it is always a pleasant place to explore. I have visited all of the cities and towns mentioned above and can vouch that these are all worth visiting.
Key places to explore in French Switzerland include the Lake Geneva region, with Lausanne and its Olympic history, Montreux and its picturesque promenade, and the largest of them all – Geneva. Additionally, you have other charming towns such as Gruyères, Morges, and Yverdon-les-Bains, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage site of La Chaux-de-Fonds.
I can highly recommend that you check out some of the best cities and towns in French Switzerland. Enjoy your stay!
In case you would like to discover the German and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland, you can check out the following articles:
- How to Spend 1 Day in Montreux, Switzerland
- How to Spend 1 Day in Vevey, Switzerland
- How to Spend 1 Day in Geneva, Switzerland
- How to Spend 1 Day in Lausanne, Switzerland
- How to Spend 1 Day in Fribourg, Switzerland
- Gruyères, Switzerland: A Romantic Little Town
- 9 Best Things to Do in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland
- Morges Tulip Festival: Where to See Tulips in Switzerland
- Best Italian Switzerland Cities and Towns
- 10 Best German Switzerland Cities and Towns to Explore
Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.